The vast majority of pizza I sample comes from restaurants with “pizza” or “pizzeria” in the name. And, in spite of their various unique features and styles of pizza, most of those places are more alike than they are different. For this review, I followed the suggestion of blog reader “Marcus” and headed over to Marcellus for something very different: Daniel’s Grill. It’s not a pizza resturant, not even an Italian restaurant, just excellent fine dining with surprisingly modest prices.
The menu lists a Margherita pizza for $8.99, and “make your own,” also $8.99 for up to four toppings, and your choice of sauce and cheese. I stayed pretty mainstream with my choice: marinara sauce with fresh mozzarella, topped with pepperoni, sausage, onions and roasted red peppers. It was delivered in under 15 minutes, on a 10 inch plate.
It was tough to get good pictures with dim lighting above, and fading sunlight coming in a window. I did get daring and use the flash a couple of times. With the dim lighting, I couldn’t really discern much about the color of the crust, but the pictures do seem to show that it was rather yellow. It didn’t taste like a “traditional” pizza crust. There was somewhat less chewiness, and a finer “crumb,” if that’s the right word. My guess is that another kind of flour is mixed with wheat flour, and it is also possible that a little bit of milk and/or butter was used. I could be way off base, and if I am, I hope someone from the restaurant will eventually see this and post a comment to correct me. Crust thickness ran from about 1/4″ to 1/2″.
The sauce had good fresh tomato taste, but was not heavily seasoned and stayed mostly in the background. With four toppings, each with their own distinct and strong flavor, it was difficult to judge much more than that about the sauce. Cheese (fresh mozzarella) was wonderful, melted perfectly and not burned.
These were toppings with rather strong flavor. The pepperoni was larger than usual, with a pleasant spiciness and crisp edge from the oven. The sausage was in the form of crumbled bits that were perfectly cooked and moderately spiced. Onions were apparently sauteed enough that they, along with the roasted red peppers, imparted a rather sweet, caramelized component to the blend of flavors. Even though I ordered fresh mozzarella, there was a little bit of shredded parmesan on top, along with small bits of what was either fresh basil or parsley.
As I sat there eating the pizza, it occurred to me that it would be difficult to compare this to pizza from typical pizza restaurants. It was really in a different league, a different type of pizza experience. It was the vision and design of an experienced chef, and it seems almost an insult to rate it on the same scale, with the same criteria as other pizza. It had a wonderfully complex and satisfying blend of flavors, was served very hot and fresh, and I highly recommend it. For the sake of assigning a number, I’ll take into consideration the somewhat unusual crust, and rate it 4.5 out of 5 slices.
Summary – Pros: pretty much everything. Cons: none really.
What do YOU think? Have you made the trek to Marcellus for pizza from Daniel’s Grill? Click the comment link below and tell us about it!